Utah mom dresses up as traffic cone in hopes to make crosswalks safer
It’s common to see traffic cones on the road, but it’s not everyday you see one moving and guiding children across a crosswalk.
In Utah, that moving cone is Whitney Durfee, a crossing guard at Trailside Elementary in the city Vineyard, who draws a wide arrange of reactions as she dons her bright orange costume while helping kids make it to school.
A crossing guard at the elementary school for two years, Durfee loves her job because of all the children she meets.
“I just love hearing different stories,” Durfee told USA TODAY. “They all come from a different background, so I love hearing what they’re most excited about for school or after school or what the best part of their day was.”
Close calls at the crosswalk
As much as Durfee loves her job, it comes with a risk: drivers that aren’t paying attention.
“It’s amazing how distracted or unaware cars are. Even though they know it’s a school zone, they know that there’s children walking right there,” she said. “They aren’t aware that they’re supposed to stop or stay stopped while I’m out in the road.”
Durfee added she’s had several instances where cars continue to drive through the crosswalk while she tries to clear the walkways, saying that there was one time when a car was “less than a foot away” from hitting her.
“That was the scariest experience because it was so close,” she said.
The close calls have led to Durfee to try and remind drivers and social media users to be more cautious around school zones, but as the near-collisions kept occurring, she wanted to try another form of outreach.
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‘Giant cone in the middle of the road’
It all started in 2021 when Durfee was excited to find a Halloween costume of a traffic cone.
She decided to buy it and that year, dress up in different costumes during Halloween week, with the traffic cone being the finale. The costume was a hit, with parents and children happy and excited to see their crossing guard as the big cone, and the reactions played a role in the idea of wearing it again.
“I didn’t always wear it,” she said. “But when I saw the close experiences like I’ve had in the past, I’ll pull it out, and I’ll remind drivers that I’m here and that they needed to drive safe. They shouldn’t not notice this giant cone in the middle of the road.”
A safer crosswalk
With people taking pictures of her and laughing, Durfee thinks its awesome the costume brings people happiness. But she has noticed positive results each time she wears it.
“When I wear it, it’s definitely a lot safer for me and for the children at the crosswalk. People are more aware that I’m there. I’m a lot more noticeable and people are driving a lot safer,” Durfee said.
She hopes her costume will have people across the country more aware of crosswalks, especially around schools.
“I just want all of the kids to be safe,” Durfee said.
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.